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Rafael Espinoza stops Sergio Chirino, Cortes edges Nova

Rafael ‘El Divino’ Espinoza, the 6’1″ featherweight destroyer, lived up to his nickname. Espinoza defended his WBO title for the first time with a fourth-round TKO over Mexican countryman Sergio Chirino in the main event Friday evening in front of a sold-out crowd inside BleauLive Theater at Fontainebleau Las Vegas.

Espinoza (25-0, 21 KOs) wasted no time in asserting his dominance, dropping Chirino with a counter left hand in the opening round. He put Chirino on the canvas in the third with a right hand that nearly sent him through the ropes. The end was near, and Espinoza pounced, knocking down Chirino (22-2, 13 KOs) with an accumulation of shots.

Six months after his Fight of The Year title-winning effort over Robeisy Ramirez, Espinoza’s encore did not disappoint.

Espinoza said, “From the beginning, the hunger that I have to triumph, to be better and to move forward was apparent. I gave my heart, and it shows.

“We had a plan to control our distance in the fight. But I like throwing punches and showing people what they want to see, which is action. That’s why I went forward as soon as the first round began. I don’t like going backward.

“I’m here. It’s my time. The time of ‘El Divino.’ I want to unify, and I want the big challenges.”

Cortes Edges Nova

Andres ‘Savage’ Cortes (22-0, 12 KOs) dug deep in tonight’s junior lightweight co-feature to earn a unanimous decision over former world title challenger Abraham Nova (23-3, 16 KOs).

The two engaged in trash talk for months ahead of their showdown, and the rivalry unfolded in the ring with tense action.

Cortes took an early lead in the opening rounds, pushing forward from a high guard to connect hooks and right hands to the body and head. He also had success with the right uppercut on the inside.

As Nova started to find his rhythm, Cortes began to tire in the eighth round. Nova stunned Cortes with an overhand right in the ninth.

The late surge was not enough for Nova, as Cortes won with scores of 97-93 2x and 96-94.

Cortes said, “It was a tough fight. I knew he was a tough competitor. He just went 12 rounds with a world champion. So, I knew it would be a tough one.

“He was very dirty in there. He called me a dirty fighter, but he was really dirty in there. All these headbutts and stuff. But it was a good fight. No excuses. I dug deep and got the victory.”

Nova said, “This is boxing. This is what happens. I started a bit slow. But then I got my rhythm. I went in there, and I did what I had to do. He hit me a lot behind the head.

“This is boxing. All I’ve got to go is back to drawing board, fix a couple things and come back.”

Isley Wins Battle of Unbeatens

Former amateur rivals Troy Isley (13-0, 5 KOs) and Javier Martinez (10-1-1, 3 KOs) put their unbeaten records on the line, and it was Isley who left the ring victorious.

Isley secured the unanimous decision and the NABO title by scores of 97-91 2x and 96-92.

Isley and Martinez split four fights as amateurs, but in the paid ranks, Isley’s consistent aggression and intelligent use of angles proved too much for the Milwaukee native.

Martinez was deducted a point for low blows in the seventh round, while Isley suffered the same fate in round nine. Martinez tried to pick up the pace in the final two rounds on an elusive Isley, but it was not enough.

Isley said, “His two wins over me as an amateur meant nothing. The talent gap showed. We’re on to bigger things now. I want the champions soon.

“We knew to box him. We didn’t want to make it a firefight. I had to stay composed and box him.”

In other results:


Floyd Diaz (12-0, 3 KOs) earned his second victory of the year with an eight-round points triumph over Mexican veteran Francisco Pedroza (18-12-2, 10 KOs).

Diaz successfully controlled the fight with quick counters from the outside but also managed to outland at close quarters, especially as they went toe-to-toe in the final seconds.

Scores: 78-73 3x.

Junior Lightweight: 

DJ Zamora III (13-0, 9 KOs), a Las Vegan southpaw of Filipino heritage, authored a workmanlike unanimous decision win over a tough-as-nails Jose Antonio Meza (9-10, 2 KOs) following eight rounds of sustained action.

Zamora, who made his Top Rank debut tonight, prevailed with scores of 80-72 2x and 79-73.

Junior Bantamweight: 

Steven Navarro (2-0, 1 KOs) dazzled in his Top Rank debut and coasted to a unanimous decision victory over Juan Pablo Meza (7-4, 2 KOs).

Navarro’s punch volume and elusiveness were simply too much for Meza.

Scores: 60-54 3x.


In a battle of unbeaten prospects, Bryan Polaco (7-0, 5 KOs) shined, stopping Richard Acevedo (6-1-1, 5 KOs) in the third round of a scheduled six-rounder.

Polaco scored a pair of knockdowns in the third, and a follow-up flurry forced referee Mike Ortega to stop the one-way traffic.

Credit: Top Rank Boxing 

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